Dean Smith today paid tribute to derby hero Andy Butler and claimed his captain epitomises Walsall’s superb spirit.
Butler netted the only goal of the game in the 68th minute as the Saddlers claimed their first win over Wolves for over 14 years at Molineux last night.
The 29-year-old has flourished under Smith’s tutelage since being made skipper two-and-a-half years ago and the manager admitted there was no more fitting player to head the winner on a memorable night for the club.
And he believes Butler is just one of several leaders he can call on, both on the pitch and in the dressing room.
“Since I have been in charge he has been my captain and he has been fantastic out there,” he said.
“He has developed. He is one of those players you look at and he wants to get better and keep developing.
“He leads by example, but there are a number of them out there who do as well – the Chambers brothers are another two like that.
“You’ve got Dean Holden, who is not even in the 18 at the moment but he has sat in the stands and come down at half-time to discuss what he’s seen. It just shows the spirit we have got here.”
While Wolves’ players left the pitch to a chorus of boos, the Saddlers players received the adulation of an away following totalling 2,300.
Smith admitted he was delighted for the fans but warned his side will not get carried away with the result.
“I think we have made 2,300 people very happy,” he said. “It was great support we had and we knew we’d get it, it was the big one for them. It’s nice they will have bragging rights when they go to work this morning.
“For us, it’s a great performance and a great win. But it’s only three points and we will keep reminding ourselves of that.”
Goal hero Butler was quick to hail his team-mates for what he described as a superb team performance.
But Butler, the first Walsall player to net a winner at Molineux since Andy Rammell in 1999, admitted the goal was a big moment on a personal level.
“It was special,” he said. “You can’t ask for more than a 1-0 win and a goal, but it came from every single player working hard, including the lads who were on the bench.
“We didn’t come here and sit back and soak it up, we went at it from the first minute and I think we dominated the game towards the end.
“To be fair I couldn’t really miss, it fell on a plate for me.”